Wednesday, 4 April 2012

BRB's Away Day: Brave Poles

Here are some shots of the attacks on my wing, led by Roger's new Poles.

Above is 75% of the mixed brigade of Roger's Poles and my Line, hurtling towards the right hand fleche.  And becoming disordered.

I discovered that in Black Powder, infantry can almost automatically form square at the drop of a hat; so my heavy cavalry were reduced to a "supporting role".  

Here the French and Poles have pushed on into the fleche...  the Polish unit at right rear, achieved wonders;  routing a Russian unit it became shaken, and was then charged simultaneously in front and flank by two fresh Russian units.  It routed, one, turned and then routed the other!   The heroes can be seen, below.  Eventually they had to reluctantly retire after their brigade was broken.

Roger (RTB) designed this range of Poles, which were sculpted by Paul Hicks.  I can testify that they are lovely minis, very compatible with Perry/Victrix.  There are some closeups on Roger's blog.  If you want to buy some, then you can reach Roger at


  1. Part of the reason I don't much like Black Powder for Napoleonics - Cavalry is reduced in strength and Artillery is virtually powerless. But don't try debating with logic on the yahoo group they will tear you to pieces with a lot of RAW quotes from the rules or well with all the newbies being brought into the game you should not confuse them - LOL I am strictly using this BP system for AWI for the time being / some nice ideas but they don't cross over into Napoleonics very well.

  2. I think one adaptation is to organize units by
    Company strength / infantry
    Squadron strentgh / cavalry
    battery strength / artillery

  3. All I could think is that the cavalry could force the enemy infantry to form square, and then one could hit the infantry with supporting foot, or canister. Or pin them with infantry, and flank them with cavalry.

    Clearly one wouldn't want to do a Ney at Waterloo!

    Cheers Simon

  4. The game is looking lovely!

    I have had me huge doubts about the BP rules myself. Leafing through them at a show I felt that they tried to fit too many periods into the rules and suceeded catching the feel at none of them. I also got the feel that the author did only have a basic understanding of most of the periods involved, which led to the later. In the end the rules seemed like so much fun rules that they were not historic at all.

    When you say that infantry was able to form square without a problem, it seems to go down the same road since cavalry was better then that in the Napoleonic wars.

    So what are your thoughts on the rules in general?

  5. Personally I dont think BP are suitable for Napoleonics. Take field artillery; hardly ever moved. Here they are pushed and then fire. Eh? Skirmishers dont screen why use skirmishers? On the other hand they do allow you to get drunk and enjoy the game..........

  6. Great looking game and excellent looking figures guys. Well done.

  7. The rules are simple and fun, but they aren't very Napoleonic and they are very badly structured.

    Later on, after I'd had a couple of glasses of Pinot, I found myself reminiscing about hexes and Command and Colors Naps. The game would have moved along at a good old lick, with hexes...

    Cheers, Simon

  8. aah Command and colours... there is a memory.

    Having read BP - i was unsure about it for Nap's , But then i am madly old school biased and play Grand Manner where the heavy cav is lethal!!!

  9. Great looking game!

    We've always thought of BP as a rules toolkit to tweak to taste. For example, we simply modified the rules so that each artillery model is a section instead of an entire battery (so 3-4 models for a battery) which increases their power considerably. In regards to squares we kept the rules pretty much the same but modified the roll by the quality of the troops and how close the charge originated from (or was first detected by the infantry). You are right with your comment on forcing infantry into square to slow down advances and make them good targets for artillery. One has to remember that in many instances the cavalry's power was in its perceived threat as opposed to its direct combat role. 'False' charges (feints) were often given in which to slow opposing forces, buy time and not necessarily to cause casualties.

    We've now so heavily modified the rules with poached mechanics from R2E, Dystopian Wars, Force on Force, etc. that they're now a completely new beast. Nonetheless, I still think BP gives a good game, but you have to be willing to be flexible with some of the rules.


    1. Dave D, haven't played Grand Manner; hope to see it one day.

      That is very interesting, Kent. We used artillery in batteries in the same way that you suggest, with a special rule, which explains why I didn't feel that they were underpowered in the game (the 3 gun heavy Russian batteries were scary!).

      A modifier on forming squares is a great idea; cavalry need at least some possibility of contact. I've not really experienced the cavalry/infantry mechanisms properly, yet, I'll try to read the section.

      Re BP, I've by no means given up on them, will keep plugging away...

      I don't suppose you have your mods written down? If so I'd be really curious to see them. Are you still around for Salute?

      Cheers, Simon

  10. Ah, yes! Now that I look at your pics again I see you have your artillery grouped by sections. For sure, those Russian 12-gun batteries are an absolute terror.

    I'll see if I can dig them up, but if memory serves me correctly we simply rolled 2D6. On a modified roll of 3 (or less) the unit failed to form square; on a modified 4-6 they formed square but were disordered; on a modified 7 or better they formed without incident. Modifiers were:

    +1 for quality level above 'regular' (we have vet, elite and guard),
    -1 for quality level below regular (we have raw and conscripts),
    -1 if charge originated or was detected within 18",
    +1 if seen/detected beyond 24",
    -1 if unit attempting to form square is already disordered,
    -2 if charge originated from behind target's field of vision.

    We found this induced a lot more nail-biting for those infantry commanders who had not formed square as part of their original movement orders and so were relying on the quick wits, luck and training of their men.

    Yes I'll be at Salute and look forward to seeing you there. I'll be wearing a black t-shirt with my painting challenge logo on it (the one I ripped-off from the 'Barry Lyndon' movie poster).